Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Steamboat Springs By the time golfer Rick DeWitt arrives in Steamboat Springs this week, he will have had his fill of golf.
He played 44 holes Tuesday en route to finishing ninth in the U.S. Golf Association's Mid Amateur Championships, which were held in Tennessee. After getting knocked out, the seven-time champion of the Colorado Golf Association's Mid Amateur Championships boarded a plane and headed back to Colorado so he could be in Steamboat Springs on Friday for the opening round of this year's CGA Mid Amateur at Haymaker Golf Course. The tournament is open to qualified golfers over the age of 25.
"I'm hoping to get into Steamboat sometime Thursday, so that I can play a practice round," DeWitt said.
The Aurora golfer is one of seven returning champions who will play in the tournament. The last time DeWitt was in Steamboat in 2000, he won the event with a combined score of 206. His two rounds of 67 still hold a place of honor at the city-owned facility.
"I haven't been back to the Haymaker since I stepped off the green in 2000," DeWitt said.
However, his scorecards from the first and third rounds are framed on the wall of the clubhouse and stand as a reminder that he holds the course record from the silver tees. Jeff Franks shot a round of 63 from the gold tees, which play a few hundred yards shorter.
"It's a nice golf course," DeWitt said. "The key to winning there is the same as the key to winning at any other really good golf course. You have to hit the ball in the fairway and on the greens."
That will be the goal of 84 golfers attempting to make the cut in one of Colorado's biggest amateur tournaments. Thirty-four of the golfers were invited based on exemptions, including Steamboat's Steve Dodson and Butch Boucher. Those players qualified during this summer's Combined Club Championships.
Steamboat pro Hank Franks said the CGA event is the perfect chance to showcase Steamboat Springs and Haymaker.
He said Superintendent Bill Whelihan and his crew have the course in excellent shape for the event.
"We are going to make it look good," Whelihan said. "It will get mowed every day, and the greens will be rolled a little more to make them faster."
Franks said it's a unique opportunity for the maintenance staff at the course to prepare it for the top-level player.
"Normally, those guys have to worry about making the course playable for a wide range of players," Franks said. "But this week, they can focus on just the really good players."
The tournament begins Friday, when DeWitt and his group tee off at 8 a.m. The first two rounds are open to the entire field. On Sunday, the field will be cut to 40 golfers and ties for the final round.
"This is an unbelievable field of golfers," said Thomas Pagel, assistant director of rules and competition for the CGA.
Most of the golfers qualified through four events held in Colorado this summer.